How do I write a Lewis structure for so2cl2

Scalpel and cat's claw

For a long time now, I've been toying with the idea of ​​approaching a few friends from the fantastic community for interviews.

As in October Alessandra Reß 'new novel The Towers of Edenappeared, this seemed to me an excellent opportunity to finally tackle this project seriously. And Alessandra kindly immediately agreed to be my first victim.

When exactly our (online) acquaintance began, I no longer know. 2016? Almost exactly a year ago we met for the first time for a long-planned (and repeatedly postponed) reread of Joy Chants When Voiha wakes up and a subsequent conversation about the novel (part 1 / part 2). And if everything works out, we will in the near future with Patricia A. McKillip's high fantasy classic Earth magic to repeat.

Alessandra's debut novel Before my eternityappeared in 2013 at Art script fantastic. It followed i.a. Playing gods(2015), Liminal personae(2017) andSummer lands(2019). In addition, she took part Melody of the dead(2015) and The Nomoto networks(2018) & A sense of freedom (2018) Detour into the series worlds of Larry Brent and D9E. She doesn't just write for her own blog Fragment views, but also regularly for TOR Online, where in the past she mainly dealt with the countless genres and subgenres of fantastic literature. In the meantime, she mainly introduces all sorts of fantastic creatures there, from unicorns and zombies to various marine and water dwellers.    


But before we start the interview, let's take a quick look at the content of The Towers of Eden, because at least the first half of our conversation was mainly about Alessandra's new novel:

A new religion has been spreading in the star system Aditi for some time. The Order of the Liminal preaches the doctrine that people who die in a selfless act will be reborn as "angels" on the planet of Eden. His representatives give the chosen dying people a mysterious serum and then take them away. Allegedly to the promised place of their transformation. But the seekers' organization, which is fully committed to the principle of truth, has strong doubts about the claims of the Liminals. The very existence of Eden, a world hidden from the rest of the system, seems hard to imagine. Not to mention the "angels". They smuggle one of their own, Dante, into the order as a novice in order to find out the true goals and motives of the "angel believers". But what is beginning to reveal itself to him is not quite what he expected. And the bonds of friendship that form between him and some of the other novices don't necessarily make his mission any easier.



PS: Dear Alessandra, first of all a question about the relationship between The Towers of Eden and the short story Neophyte on Eden, which can be found on TOR Online can read. Am I correct in assuming that the novel already existed in some form when you wrote the story? So was it like a first little excursion into a larger world that already existed in the background? I also ask that because the two seem to contradict each other in some details. When I started The towers To read, I thought at first that my acquaintance with the short story would have revealed some of the central riddles of the novel to me prematurely. In the end, however, this impression turned out to be incorrect. Was that intended neophyte so in some ways a kind of deception? Or does the story simply reflect an earlier stage of development in the world?

AR: You get my turn with the first question;) No, I actually wrote the short story before I even planned to set a novel in the setting. When I was working on the novel, I initially faded out the short story and developed it independently. Everything to do with the Liminalen has been added, which has brought about changes in the relationships between the different residents of Eden. If you like, you can read the short story as a lore or as an interpretation by an uninitiated, as the thing around Aria - which took place a few years before the novel and is practically a modern myth - could have gone. Basically, according to my theory, short stories and novels should be compatible.

PS: In your [Random 7] all about “DieTürme von Eden” you say that you were a “convinced world builder” before you published your own books. And one of your entry-level drugs into the genre was probably Dragon lance, a book series that was initially based on an RPG campaign. Was your early world builder inspired by RPG settings like Krynn?

AR: Yes and no. As a child I was very much in love with maps, I liked to leaf through atlases and draw country maps. When I read my first fantasy novels, I also loved the cards and started drawing my own. From these maps the worlds emerged, their societies, countries, history etc. In this respect, my world structure was mainly inspired by maps - and here by maps from novels, because I only got to know pen & paper later. For me, Krynn was primarily a world of novels, not an RPG.

PS: If I remember correctly, the world should be made up of "Holus" Playing gods was originally the setting for a classic high fantasy story, right? I find it interesting that in the end it turned into a virtual game universe. For me, worldbuilding, which is influenced by role-playing games, is often characterized by an excessive tendency to systematize. But in the case of "Holus" that makes perfect sense, because it is actually about the setting of a game.

The world of Before my eternity in turn, is characterized by a fascinating ambiguity, cannot be clearly located in space and time.

What is your personal attitude towards worldbuilding?

AR: Today I still enjoy looking at maps, whether they are real or fantastic. There are four hanging on the wall here in my kitchen-cum-living-room alone, I'm just noticing ... But they are no longer so important for my own novels. I drew some for Holus - from the time I planned it as a high fantasy novel - and there are probably still sketches for Before My Eternity in some drawer. But now I am less concerned with thinking about where a desert, where a mountain range and this or that city are, I am more interested in the social idea of ​​the respective world or the excerpt that I am looking at. According to what principles do societies function, what values ​​do they represent, what rituals do they have, what does that mean for history? Of course, geographical considerations also play a role here, as these societies in turn have a say. But I no longer focus on having a comprehensive picture (in the literal sense) of the whole world.
As a reader, I don't have to have a world presented in all its details. It is important to me that the person who writes can convey a feeling of depth or of a "behind" without the world - whether a geographical / social / ... - necessarily having to be completely formulated. Of course that always depends to a certain extent on the genre and setting, but some worlds even lose due to too many details. A prominent example is certainly there Harry Potter. Or, another example: I got mine a few days ago John Wick looked at and liked the way in which an assassin society is introduced with complete naturalness through the imagery and a few plot elements, even if the audience does not know exactly how it works. Sometimes it is precisely these gaps that make the appeal.

PS: When building the world by Towers of Eden the main emphasis is on the different models of society that exist on the different planets.

One of them is Cyberia's "technocracy". A nice detail for me was that it is a colonized moon. Cyberia is not just a society that is dominated by technical progress (and by hedonism?), But in the truest sense of the word "artificial", created in an environment that is actually completely hostile to life. Was that on purpose?

AR: Yes, and I'm happy that someone notices: D The idea was that there was a show of force by the founders of Cyberia behind it.

PS: On the surface, Cyberia seems very tolerant and inclusive. One of the main characters in the novel, Dante, is a kind of war refugee and has found a new home and family there. But another figure paints a much more negative picture of the order there. A full member of society is only considered to be someone who has special talents. All the rest would be marginalized (or not even included). Is this also intended as a critical commentary on certain "tech utopias" that are very open and democratic, but on closer inspection only turn out to be the idealized version of the life of a tech-savvy elite?

AR: While I was working on the novel, the news was going around that different universities around the world were being more or less explicitly urged to reduce or even abolish their humanities programs. That led to some discussions and, in Germany too, not only to criticism. I found that to be pretty scary. Where is a society going that only cares about economic and technical progress, but excludes sociocultural research? I do not want to have understood that conservatively - I myself often despair enough about the digital status in Germany or what is understood here by digitization (and ivory tower mechanisms, but that's another topic). But on the other hand, it is currently very clear that it makes sense to consider social effects in a multi-faceted manner when new technologies are used. And the difficulty is always to reconcile technological progress and democratic values ​​without lapsing into rigidity - keyword data protection, for example.

Cyberia reflects this dilemma to some extent. The founders broke away from Legba's democracy in order to be able to create their technocracy. It is, as you say, at first sight tolerant and inclusive. But it is only allowed to immigrate and live in a well-developed core, who can also contribute something to progress with their skills - and who are willing to submit to the rules of Cyberia.

PS: In connection with Cyberia, the idea of ​​cyber mysticism also emerges. How strong was the influence of this or other theories, which you dealt with during your studies or your master's thesis on cyberanthropology, on the novel?

AR: Looking back, I can't really say that anymore. But I don't think it's as strong as I originally thought it would be - also because I didn't want the novel to be overly cerebral. Ultimately, they have more of an influence on the basic motivation of the characters and on (world building) details, such as the development of the individual planets or their societies, religions and philosophies.


PS: In the book itself, the beliefs of the cyber mystics are paraphrased as follows: "They assume that we are all just entities of a large computer and that some distant day we will become part of it again."On the one hand, this reminds me of classic mystical notions of the dissolution of the individual in the" absolute ", the" divine ". And that is how it is interpreted by one of the characters:"I want to overcome diversity"On the other hand, of course, it has something of virtual reality. A topic with which you are much more involved Playing gods busy. Which reminds me of a question that I wanted to ask you for a long time: There is a figure (Ophelia) there who at some point makes the claim that the primary world of Playing gods is itself just a simulation, created to test the functionality of a certain model of society. We do not find out in the novel whether this is actually the case. But the scene immediately got me to the Fassbinders world on wire remind. Is there actually a connection? Which representations of virtual reality - be it in books or films - impressed you the most?

AR: world on wire Unfortunately I don't know, so the proximity to it is probably a coincidence.

When it comes to virtual reality, Volume 1 was probably the Otherland-Tetralogy most formative for me. I had some problems with the book, but I found the simulations in it to be fascinating. The simulation from Karl Olsbergs is also interesting Boy in a white roomthat is a little more tied to today's gaming and streaming reality than the "big" simulations Otherland, Ready Player One and Co.

But in general I always find it very exciting when a reality has several levels, whether it is virtual or otherwise. When I used to play with my Playmobil characters, I always had scruples about expecting them to have overly dramatic adventures because I was afraid they might somehow be real or I might be a Playmobil character myself ... So that runs through my plot development. (Although I have fewer ethical scruples with my book characters than with the game characters - but maybe that's why I tend to introduce meta levels; that creates distance to the characters.)

PS: One of the things that appeal to me The Towers of Eden What particularly liked is that we by no means get clear answers to all questions. At the end of the novel, we know a lot more about the initially so mysterious angels, their origins and their nature, but the whole thing still remains quite ambivalent in some respects.

For me this was related to a lengthy conversation between two characters about the relativity of truth. That truth is ultimately a question of perspective, both subjective and social. Am I wrong or was that actually one of the central motifs of the novel for you?

AR: No, that's true. The idea of ​​a relative truth has a major image problem at the moment. But reality is usually so complex that it leaves room for many interpretations, which means that the division into true and false is in many cases anything but unambiguous (although usually more unambiguous than in the book). Another central motive, however, is that of ethics and it is important to me to keep this in mind when considering the issue. Cultural relativism, for example, is plausible in theory, but ethically also problematic. I like the current of cosmopolitanism, as represented, for example, by Kwame Anthony Appiah, which on the one hand does not deny relativism, but it does so through certain overarching values ​​- human rights! - has its place.Looking at something in relative terms offers the potential to approach one another, but also the risk of pulling yourself out of responsibility when dealing with critical issues.

Jeez, it sounds like all those theories had a lot of influence on the book, right? Maybe it was more than I thought. But it was certainly not my intention to turn someone into a convinced relativist, cosmopolitan or whatever. I just like to use my books to put into words the arguments I have with myself. And the discussion about relativity or relativism on the one hand and its dangers on the other hand is just one of these disputes.

PS: One of the main characters, Keri, suffers from panic attacks. I know it from my own experience, and above all I found the description of the associated unpleasant feeling of having to concentrate very consciously on every single breath very successful. In addition, it also appealed to me in general that I would once have a protagonist who had to grapple with such problems. Do we still follow the old ideal of the "competent man" as a hero too often in fantasy and science fiction?

AR: In the meantime, characters are more often allowed to deviate from the physically and mentally ultra-competent hero norm. Psychological problems are z. B. in the YA-Fantasy no longer so rare, but often associated with the task of the affected figure to overcome it. If the way there is shown convincingly, I do not consider that to be fundamentally problematic. But escapism or not, I find it weird or even disappointing when this overcoming is only a matter of a few days or even a sudden OMG-it-was-just-lacking-will-epiphany.In this respect, I would like to see more titles in which those affected or their environment learn to live with “weaknesses”, limitations or “peculiarities”, to accept them or to make use of them. Keri z. B. it helps later that she is already used to fighting against herself. In addition, she is probably the most empathetic figure in the bunch ...

PS: You like to deal with the almost unmanageable number of "genres" into which the fantastic is now divided. For The Towers of Eden you have chosen the label "Space Fantasy". Probably also to prevent criticism from some particularly narrow-minded SF purists?

My impression so far has always been that the boundaries between the genres have become a bit more porous again. Am I wrong? Is the faction of the advocates of a "hard" science fiction, for whom everything that is not "scientifically plausible" is not a "real" SF, really still that strong?

AR: I think it depends a lot on the scene bubble. Some are open, others take it more precisely. When I look at the usual genre prices, I get the impression that the aesthetics are crucial - and the corner from which a title comes from. A dystopia from a well-known author Heyne will probably have it easier for a while to be considered a “real” SF than the one Dragon moon-Author, even if both have similar criteria for scientific plausibility.

Personally, I am now taking it more closely than I would actually like - professional risk, I guess. At The Towers of Eden I didn't want to primarily prevent criticism, but simply to describe the matter for what it is. With the D9EVolumes The Nomoto networks and A sense of freedom I have published two novels, which do not contain any more technical babble than Eden, but still clearly science fiction in terms of the mood, structure and subject matter (even if not hard science fiction). Eden is there more permeable, but also z. B. in terms of structure more towards fantasy. (The fact that the term "Space Fantasy" also appears in the subtitle was partly a decision by the publisher. I only used it in the synopsis as a genre designation.)


PS: You have repeatedly defended the Romantasy against its many despisers. Not only because it has just as much a right to exist as any other genre, but also because, above all, it gave authors an opportunity to gain a foothold in the market. In this context you once stated that you doubted whether you would have made your debut Before my eternity to publish, "if the book hadn't swum a bit of the vampire hype that 'Twilight' had sparked.

But in the books I have read from you, romantic relationships play no or only a very subordinate role. In Before my eternity There is apparently a "romantic" subplot, but on closer inspection it turns out to be not very romantic. Rather, "Held" Simon resembles a creepy stalker in thought and action.

Have you had the experience that as a writer you are expected to give it a bigger place in your stories? Is there some pressure in this direction?

AR: Definitely. It was rarely discussed with small publishers, but when my manuscripts were available to the general public it was often an issue, especially for young people's books. I can understand it to a certain extent because readers expect a romantic subplot in some types of novels, especially when a female name is on the cover. That is the strongest with me Before my eternity noticed: People then told me they didn't want to read the book because they'd had enough of "vampire smack". Conversely, there were readers who complained about too little romance. Yes, well, the book should never be romantasy, but somehow that is or was apparently expected with the connection between vampire theme + author. That was the impractical side of that Twilight-Vampire wave ridden.

PS: With your TOR contribution to "Hopepunk" in October 2019, you were probably one of the first to take up this term in this country. For a while it was discussed quite controversially. Some mockingly dismissed Hopepunk as a mere marketing label, others enthusiastically wrote it on their banners. How do you see the situation a year later? Has a current or movement actually developed that can be meaningfully associated with this name? Or was the whole thing in the end not much more than a catchphrase that has meanwhile been replaced by new catchphrases?

AR: It definitely became a movement. In between I thought the discussion had subsided, but it has become more diversified. In the meantime there are, so to speak, different types of Hopepunk - a sure sign that it has actually established itself;) In addition, it is said that Hopepunk experienced a countermovement with Doomer Lit and damned, which speaks more for the fact that something has arrived in canon than that it received a countermovement ?!

I find it very exciting to follow the development. I used to work intensively on youth scenes, and in movements like Hopepunk, Solarpunk, etc. I recognize many structures. I agree with the critics that they do not represent literary genres in the classical sense. Rather, they are media-producing scenes with their own aesthetics and values. But at least for me, it only makes it all the more interesting.


PS: You got used to the short story Chestnut trip (in Stories from the autumn lands) and the novel Summer lands in the Shared World project of Autumn lands involved. I always found such shared worlds really exciting, especially because of their collaborative nature. But I feel like they somehow seem to be pretty out of style. If you compare the 80s with things like Thieves' World, Bordertown or Liavek attracts. What do you think about that? And how was your experience with such a project? Is the collaborative element really stronger there than in series that you've already dealt with (Larry Brent and D9E - The Logan War)? Or do I have a somewhat romanticized idea?

AR: I actually have the impression that you are experiencing a small revival. In science fiction scenes and around role-playing systems, there is still a whole series of shared universe series, and especially the MCU, but also the return of the novellas and short novels have brought the topic out of the moth box. However, we may understand slightly different things under “Shared Universe”, because I wouldn't make a big distinction between them Autumn lands / summer lands and Larry Brent. In both cases I had certain guidelines, but I was able to tell mostly independent stories.

Different with The Logan War, where the collaborative element was certainly the strongest: Here we - we were five authors in total - did not tell independent episodes, but instead built on the previous volumes. Although everyone could bring in a few of their own characters and at least in the first volumes we also divided the areas a bit, everything should logically be consistent in the structure of the world and the storyline. That's why we exchanged ideas almost daily via Trello in the planning and writing phase.

At Larry Brent and Autumn lands I worked through journals with the most important information in advance. To Summer lands and Chestnut trip I also discussed a lot with Fabienne Siegmund, one of the four inventors of the universe. But that's more because we were living in neighboring cities at the time and we often had joint writing meetings anyway; In and of itself, so much consultation wouldn't even have been absolutely necessary. During the writing process, I only asked here and there about details, also with Larry Brent. To other authors, however, I had, for example, B. almost no contact at all.

Basically, I really enjoy helping to write projects like this. Of course, it is great to develop your own ideas, but it also has its appeal to work with specifications and weave your own elements into an existing universe or to see how ideas develop in exchange with other authors.

PS: With Holly with cat (on Smart Stories) and The company wasn't ready for it yet (in When the world becomes small and threatening) two non-fantastic short stories were published by you in October. Would you like to frolic outside of the fantastic more often?

AR: Actually yes, but I don't have the stamina for longer texts. I think it plays a role in the fact that I can now be relatively sure that I will find a publisher and readers for a fantastic novel. In the case of non-fantastic, however, I would have to start from scratch and since my time resources do not allow for so many projects at once, in the end I would choose the safe number with fantastic elements again. The last time I offered a realistic youth novel in 2019, a kind Almost Famous with a road trip through the east of France. Unfortunately, that didn't meet with so much approval and it was my last attempt in this direction (with the exception of short stories).

PS: Let's assume that you don't have to take any considerations into account for salability: Is there some kind of dream project that you would like to write one day?

AR: I would really like to see an urban fantasy soap opera with individual volumes the length of a booklet, recurring characters and motifs, but each with closed episodes. My ideas are a little more specific, but I don't want someone stealing my trash dream because they find elven conspiracies on Instagram just as entertaining as I do. If at some point I take the plunge into self-publishing, I will certainly do so with it.

PS: Well, I would read it.

Thank you for the interview!


Author's photo: Copyright by Alessandra Reß